An Evening to Remember

I worked at the shop until 3:00 PM today and I finally decided the weather was just too perfect too ignore. It was cloudy with barely a breath of wind.

I rowed the boat across the river at 3-Mile Access. This is something my partner Steve and I do fairly often. It saves a shuttle, and the timing works well: most anglers headed to Bighorn Access are farther down river, while those ending their floats at 3-Mile haven’t arrived yet. And when you row across the river, you don’t have to compete with other wade fisherman.

I noticed fish rising immediately. Midges – singles, doubles, and even clusters – made their way downstream. There was a great variety of rise forms: backs and tails, swirls, and even complete snouts cleared the water. The fish were definitely on the feed. Up above the Slime Hole about 100 yards is a place we call “The Gravel Pit.” The fish were everywhere and I had a fish take my fly on the first cast. It didn’t turn out to be quite that easy, and it took me a number of casts before I had another fish, but soon I was catching trout on a regular basis. Most of them were browns in the 14″ – 16″ range with a few shading 17.” Out of the 12 fish I landed in the next hour, only two were rainbows.

I was fishing a #20 CDC Midge Cluster up and a #20 Student down, 5X to the first fly, 6X to the second. The Midge Cluster was my “indicator fly.” I’m not as young and eagle-eyed as I used to be, so this system works well for me. Almost all the fish took the Student. The Student’s low profile on the water is the key to its effectiveness. It has been my “go to” fly when the fish are picky. Just make sure to have plenty of Frog’s Fanny powder with you to keep your flies floating high.

I finally decided I needed to play with streamers on the Spey rod, so I walked back down to the boat and began fishing my 12′ 5 wt. Sage with a small gray and blue streamer. The sink tip got the fly down just enough, and I took several fish out of the Slime Hole. This was turning into an exceptional evening.

The river is very low right now. It certainly has the look of a giant spring creek, and the fertility of this fishery is simply amazing. I might also add that the low, clear water demands that you cast well and get good drag-free drifts with your dries and nymphs. If your technique is mediocre, don’t expect to catch large numbers of fish.

The fishing should only get better as May approaches. Every day the Baetis hatch gets a little bit heavier. We’ve already had good afternoon fishing on these small, olive-gray mayflies.

Give us a call if you’d like to enjoy some great dry fly fishing: (406) 666-2375.